Impressions of the Mapping Festival
We walked up to the elevator that was going to take us to the second floor of the club Zoo Usine in Geneva. The walls were covered with stickers and graffiti. We were bringing a huge Pelican case on wheels, filled with technical mumbo jumbo, the kind of stuff that you always bring to a standard gig. The elevator felt very poor, it was only going to take us one floor but it took forever. The doors opened and a rank smell of urine hit our faces. None of the toilets here had doors. We stepped out and walked into the room where the party would start five hours later. There were 13 screens and five veils hanging from the ceiling and 15 projectors filling the room with the Modul8 test screen. Quite a contrast to what we are used to in Sweden.
For the second time our group, Startsladd, sent in an application for a club gig at the Mapping Festival in Geneva. Just like last year we were out in the last minute. Our hopes to get a slot were not high but we got a spot at the closing party. The festival took care of the logistics very well. They booked and paid for our tickets and put us in a nice hotel room. It was nothing like what we are used to. We arrived the last day of the festival and we went straight from the airport to watch the VJ Contest that was taking place at Zoo Usine. The contest was interesting because of how it was set up. It was split into four parts, all judged by a jury. The first part had taken place the day before our arrival. There were 16 contestants and eight of them had advanced to the next day.
UPDATE Video from the first day of the VJ contest.
The task for the quarter final was to use a small number of still images (approx. 20 including the Mapping Festival logotype) on which they had to base their material. They got the images at the end of day one, so many of them had probably worked the entire night. Half of them moved on to the semi final. They now got to use whatever material they wanted. But they had to draw a card, on which it said what kind of music they were going to perform to. There was reggae, funk, hip-hop and power metal. None of them genres that are closely related to visual performances. Out of these four VJ’s were now only M&Y and Indefinite VJ left. In the final they competed in a classical battle were the contestants had about 30 sec to perform before the turn went to the other side of the room. Then back again for another 30 sec, etc. After a 15 minute beer break and consulting between the jury, alone stood the winner and it was M&Y.
Video: ARES | M&Y | GRAFKUT
After the contest it was time for dinner at Zoo Usine. I was served a cup of coffee by the second dirtiest punker I’ve ever met (the dirtiest punker I’ve ever met didn’t know how to operate a coffee machine).
The video check worked like a charm. The club had a guy responsible for and only working with video. He was there for the entire night making sure that everything went on smoothly. The working space was huge. Startsladd alone had three computers that we hooked up to the Edirol V-440HD mixer. With it’s two buses connected to the video matrix and software written by Garagecube we could then decide and seamlessly mix what went out and to which one of the screens in the room. It was very simple and fun to work with, since this technology opened an extra door in our performance.
During the night there was six VJ’s/crews that performed, all together with their own DJ. Except for Dat Politics, who at their arrival told the organizers that they didn’t want to have a VJ during their performance. They brought their own DVD with prerecorded material. That caused some rearrangement of all the acts, since everyone had counted on using a VJ for this slot. After all it’s a festival for visual performers. Crews of the evening were: Jellyfish, Startsladd, KRMT, VNBC and M&Y. All put colors on the dance floor with their own very personal style. The funny thing was that out of five performances this night, four of them contained material with Mexican wrestling masks.
Video: Startsladd @ Mapping Festival 2010
I was very impressed by the Belgian VJ Jellyfish’s performance. He had a very nice mix of recorded footage and graphics. It was interesting to see how he had put it all together. Often with a character from movie, masked out and put on a solid light color, mixed with moving graphical elements. It was kind of a disappointment that the other crews didn’t take advantage of the fine technology that Zoo Usine offered. Startsladd was the only crew that really played around with the HD-mixer. The others sent their one and only output to all the screens.
Video: Jellyfish Demo reel
The party was great and the place was packed the entire night. In the backstage area a lot of good ideas came up and many new connections was made. At 4.30 AM we threw in the towel and went back to the hotel, the Mapping Festival 2010 was over. We woke up on Sunday looking forward to eating some good bacon at the hotel breakfast just to be informed that bacon had not been paid for by the festival. For a short while we hated them stingy bastards intensive. But then we got reminded of the free t-shirts we had been given. We returned to the hotel room and recorded some material against the frosted glass in the shower cabin. Then we packed our bags and left Geneva. The night had been a blast, it was just sad that we hadn’t been able to see more of the festival. I can recommend everyone who considers it, send in the application next year! Startsladd will.